Ask Daniel Negreanu his opinion about anything, and he’s likely to give it to you – and then some. The six-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner has been one of poker’s most outspoken advocates for more than a decade. With his runner-up finish recently in the 2014 Big One for One Drop event, the Canadian-born poker icon catapulted into the lead as the all-time leading tournament money winner in poker history – now at close to $28 million.It’s hard to believe that the player once known as “Kid Poker” is about to turn 40. With his birthday coming up on July 26th, that also means Negreanu will be eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame for the first time. Since the rules for nomination were altered a few years ago, adding a minimum age requirement, it’s quite possible that Negreanu could become a first-ballot choice by voters.Induction into the Poker Hall of Fame is an elongated process. Three sectors of the poker community have a say, including the general public (made up mostly of players and fans) who nominate potential candidates, and select members of the poker media, and the living Poker Hall of Fame inductees who ultimately vote for whom they deem most worthy from the pared down list. No doubt, Negreanu will get his fair share of attention from them all.
Here at the 2014 WSOP, we caught up with Negreanu for a few minutes to discuss the upcoming Poker Hall of Fame nominations and selection process. True to his reputation, he had his opinions and was willing to share them.WSOP: What is your view on the 40-year-old minimum age requirement?Negreanu: I liked it when I first heard about it. It made sense to me. One of the things that qualifies those who are inducted in ‘standing the test of time.’ I don’t know how a 28-year-old kid could stand the test of time. Despite being one of the best players in the world, or whatever, until you see what happens later – like when things change, will you still be able to compete? So, I think 40 makes a lot of sense.WSOP: Most agree you will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame someday. If you were selected this year, would you feel guilty about it, since there are quite a few worthy candidates who haven’t gotten in yet?Negreanu: I wouldn’t feel guilty and the only reason is because when I look at the list of attributes to get in, I think I’ve met them. If I wasn’t selected, then I would think to myself, ‘so what exactly do I need to do to get in [laughter]? Like what exactly have I missed here?' So, I guess I would be surprised if I wasn’t chosen. But I’ll respect the decision people make, either way.WSOP: So, what should voters look at in your opinion when they choose this year’s nominees?Negreanu: I don’t think it should be a case of, well this person has been around longer. It should be the person who deserves it the most. It should be like, ‘this person is 75,’ versus ‘this person is younger.’ Each year, it should be the one or two people who are the most deserving.WSOP: If you have to give us one or two names who you think should be in the Poker Hall of Fame as soon as possible, who would they be?Negreanu: Scotty Nguyen, for sure.Question: Scotty Nguyen’s already in the Hall of Fame. He was inducted last year.Negreanu: See! What did I tell you? He should be in the Hall of Fame [laugher]!WSOP: Okay, so who really deserves to be inducted this year more than any other player do you think?Negreanu: I would have to say Huck Seed. He’s a world champion. He’s a high-stakes player. He’s stood the test of time. He’s respected by all of his peers. That’s really a key, I think.Question: If you could change just one thing about the Poker Hall of Fame, what would it be?Negreanu: Well, it’s way too American-centric. The Hall of Fame should reflect the growth of the game and the influence of other players, like overseas. So many people have done so much.Question: So give us a name or two of people from overseas who you think deserve to be in the Poker Hall of Fame?Negreanu: Easy. Bruno Fitoussi is the first. He’s done so much in France and all over Europe for poker. Everyone loves Bruno and respects him. He was one of the first people to bring Americans over to Paris to see the poker scene there. Also, John Duthie. He’s not only a great poker player who won one of the first majors but also started the European Poker Tour, which is huge. I think the positive impact both Bruno and John have had with all of their events helping to spread the game has been very valuable, on top of both of them being accomplished players.